The Dumpling Diary

Dis cooking so you cooking too.

Tortellini: This is how we do. February 10, 2012

Filed under: Main Dishes — Meg @ 8:42 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Tonight, I decided to make some Ravioli. I made Tortellini instead…

Bloggies, if you want to make it, I assure you, you can. If I can do all of this in under an hour, AND take a low-grade cellphone photo of it to boot, take the plunge and try it as well! I used my old hand-crank pasta machine to get the dough, and yes, I made the dough with my Kitchen-aid, but we can all take a little help here and there!

End result:

(I still can’t find the Olympus, sorry!)

To make the dough, mix together and knead 1 cup of flour and 2 eggs. If you’re using a machine, knead with the dough hook for 8 minutes on highest kneading settting (2 on a Kitchen-aid). Jamie Oliver has a nice method using a food processor, as well, but you can do the same by hand, kneading till firm, very smooth and somewhat dry. No sticky! Put it in a plastic bag or cling wrap for about 15-30 minutes, whatever you’ve got. Cut it in two, and use a pasta machine (I went down to 6 of 7 thicknesses) to roll it out. You can do this on a floured board with a rolling pin, too. Shoot for about 1millimeter or so. Or thicker, I don’t care! Cut into 2″ squares, flour, and let it sit under a damp tea towel as you work.

While the dough rests, mix these ingredients until combined and slightly sticky:

  • 1/2lb ground pork
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese (or Parmesan, if you want)
  • 1 egg

    Now, when everything is ready, prepare an eggwash (just mix an egg up very well. Add a splash of water, if you like), and have a brush on hand. Line up a bunch of your squares, and eggwash the edges to make a 90 degree angle on each square. Add 1/2 tsp or so of filling to each square (you may need a little less to avoid ‘splosions). Fold over, seal tightly and remove air pockets. With the point up, wrap the bottom edges around your pinky finger, and squeeze them together to seal. Take it off your finger, and fold the top edge down. You can also fold the whole top over (edges) if you want a little more pizazz to your tortellini. That’s it!

    Now all you have to do is cook ’em! I think the best way is just to cook in boiling, salted water, until they float to the top. Check by cutting into them to see that the meat and pasta are cooked through. Serve these however you want, and keep in mind, they freeze very well. Make sure, if you do freeze them, do it on a floured board, keeping them separate. Then transfer to a freezer bag.

    That is all I want to say! Make some and enjoy!

 

Hooked on the Sauce January 7, 2011

Admittedly, yes, I have become a pasta addict in recent days. I broke the chain last night with some boss-commissioned borscht, but other than that, almost a week of pasta errrrr’ night. You would think it would become monotonous very quickly, but no! I assure you, I now consider pasta essential to life, and/or daily maintenance. Let it be known: This week, we (two people!) consumed enough pasta to make three 900g bags disappear, plus a few other smaller, partly-gone packages. Our supplies were replenished yesterday, but there was a point where the pasta had to be homemade, and I’m very glad it did get to that point. In my vacation boredom, I decided to make some homemade pasta dough (1 c. flour, 2 lrg eggs, mix and knead for 8 minutes). Then, the old-school, hand-crank pasta machine. Easier said than done, but excellent results. Although, Jon insisted on 4 foot fettuccine noodles the next night, and, well, tapeworms, you know, I’m not gonna go there. But I really want to.
.
So, now that your appetites are good and roused, thanks to my parasitic rambling (SORRY), let’s whet it some more with a delicious tomato sauce recipe, fit for a mafia boss, inexpensive enough to feed  savages like Yon and I. Also, it is quick, quick, quick! Veloce! You can heighten the swank of this, by all means, but substituting pancetta or even prosciutto for bacon (although pork cheek is also a pretty traditional choice, one I cannot wait to try). For the olives, I suppooooose, if you’re one of THOSE kinds of people, you could leave them out entirely, adjust salt as you like. However, I believe them to be an integral part of this sauce. Please use only high-grade olives, not those watery rings from a can. They look like tortured Froot Loops. Please. Do not. Otherwise, this is my bastardized version of “Sugo All’Amatriciana.” Sorry, Italy.
.
Pauper’s Sauce
(tomato sauce with bacon and black olives)
.

.
Ingredients
.
6 oz bacon
2 cloves minced garlic
8 oz tomato paste (I used about a can and a half of those little 5 oz-ish cans)
1 ½ cups water
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp black pepper
1/8 – ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp basil
pinch sugar
½ cup black olives (whole, remove pits and coarsely chopped)
salt at own discretion
.
Method
.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, fry bacon until slightly crisp, and pour off all fat, save 2 Tbsp. Add garlic, stir to cook until fragrant. Add water to deglaze (scraping off the browned bits at the bottom of the pan), then stir in tomato paste until smooth. Add all remaining ingredients, except black olives, and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Then, stir in olives, cook another 3-5 minutes, and serve. Check to see, but I can almost guarantee it will hold it’s own already in the salt department, but IF, IF, you have a smoker’s tongue and need more, I will not judge you. But seriously, be wary. Bacon and olives are salt weapons.
.

.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
.
And now, more adventures in pasta-land! Cue Louis Prima music.
.

Pasta station!
.

.
Round 1: Pappardelle!
.

Round 2: I experiment with fettuccine/spaghetti(ni) setting on pasta machine
.

Pappardelle in it’s fully glory – I zazzed it up with some toasted walnuts, garlic, basil oil, and homemade ricotta (we ran out of Romano cheese, and I had to make my own cheese too… Sobeys, you are too far away)
.

Pretty Jon and his fettuccine.
.

A better view.
.
.
Okay, that is all for now, I hope you have enjoyed my pasta tour. Now, I must slink off to wake up Jon and preggo houseguest.
.
P.S. Okay, but also, I just remembered… Whoever searched my blog for “Porno Jon Dough,” bless your heart. Hahahaha. Excellent. I might also let the other person who wanted to know about salt pork, I do not soak it. I retain all saltiness for tongue enjoyment.
.
“King Henry Chicken,” “Oiled up chicka,” “Tony Starch Mr. Potato Head Spanish,” I don’t even know what to say. “Super sad dried sausage from Italy,” I think you’re looking for Capicola. … “Bourbon muffin,” you intrigue me.
.
Arrivederci, babies.
.

 

Italy Strikes Again (From a few days ago) October 31, 2010

I love going on food tangents. My house has smelled like a goddamn basil plant for the past few days, because I recently had some nice talks with Rob (you know, the one who moved to Nice, France not too long ago) and his friend Francesco. Rob went to Napoli to visit Francesco this past weekend, and as a severe comrade of mine, he complied in reporting all things Italian Foodstuff to me, and did a damn fine job of it! My East Coast rampage has died down, and I’ve eaten nothing but homemade Italian food for the past few days (okay, and a bag of Miss Vickie’s Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar, fuck off). At this point, I feel I owe a blog post to both of them. …Man, I could really save on Christmas gifts if I just gave out dedicated blog posts…
.
Anyhow, in all seriousness, I thought this fierce Adriatic wind of a cooking storm deserved to be on the interwebz. So, here’s what I’ve been up to. The first night, I made my old-school marinara recipe (see below), with fusilli. Very good. That’s been documented, so moving on. That night, I made a delicious Molise-style country bread, hearty and crusty and insanely soft inside. Probably because I kept getting sleepy and forgetting the dough was rising… Oh well, punch it down, rise it again. I think in the end, it went through 4 or 5 risings. HAH. Super-gluten. But, honestly, I think that might have made a big difference in how wonderfully it turned out! My dad enjoyed it, as did I.
.

.
So, from the bread, around rise #4, I cut off a hunk of dough and made myself a pizza. A nice, little abstract-looking thing with the previously-made marinara, mozzarella, fresh basil and olives. Goddamn delicious. Here’s a picture.
.

.
That day, my dad came over for dinner, so we used up the rest of the marinara, cooked some rigatoni pasta, mixed in some olives and tons of mozzarella and Romano, baked it in the oven, and died of happiness. So, with that, three meals out of bread dough and marinara. I think the total was around $6, not counting this little tidbits of things I already had around the house (olives, basil, etc.). Three meals to feed 2 or 3 people. Pretty good, right?!
.
So, tonight, I was lurking around Italy Revisited, an amazing site, which I visit regularly. The big draw for me is that the majority of the recipes are from Molise (family!) and generally, all of them are authentic. I cannot express my love for that. I’ve learned a lot about the region (which is TOUGH, because it’s the smallest in Italy), but know a good deal about the food culture there. Something I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time now is homemade cavatelli. I don’t even think I’ve seen it in stores anywhere, but I certainly have looked. Well, I had a lot of free time, so tonight, I wore thumbs down to mere nubs (not really, but they hurt a bit ahah), shaping the little buggers by hand. I made the dough in my Kitchen-Aid  mixer, so as not to kill myself. Then I wrapped it in plastic wrap, let it rest for an hour or so, and started cutting out strips after rolling it 1/8″ thick. Then into little 3/4″ pillows. Then pressing with my thumbs on each one (two at a time!), and dragging it along the board until they were little shell-like things. Wonderful! So, let them dry an hour, then cook in boiling water for 4 or 5 minutes, till they come to the top. Nice! So economical, too. Mixed up with a garlicky ricotta-spinach sauce, even more delicious.
.

.
But, wait! There’s more! The ricotta. I made it. From scratch. Seriously, it is so easy, you will be smug as hell afterward, if you make it yourself. I used 8 cups whole milk (homo or no-go!), scalded it (just until it starts to boil lightly and then take it off the heat), added about.. half of a 1/3 cup measure of white vinegar. Let it sit ten minutes, stirred in half a teaspoon of salt, then poured it into a cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl. Let the whey (the yellow-y liquid. Little Miss Muffet?) strain out, and you’re left with little, soft, creamy curds of cheese. It’ll keep about a week in the fridge. SO EASY. SO GOOD. I am so impressed with that stuff.
.
Anyhow, that’s the score for now. If you’re interested in any of the recipes, lemme know! I’m glad to share them. I’ve got some cavatelli that needs a stern talking to, so I’m off to that!
.
Megohm over and out!

 

Gnot Your Average Gnocchi. September 13, 2010

Filed under: Main Dishes — Meg @ 3:56 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ha-haaaaa! Okay, pepitos (semi di zucca?). It’s getting cold, which means good things for this blog, sometimes. I’m still on a raging Italian binge (with hints of French here and there – Chicken with a Dijon cream sauce, and Potatoes Anna the other night). Last night we had the most amazing Pasta Fazool (Pasta e Fagioli, whatever. Suckers), uhhhh, ever. Anyhow, I digress. Jon’s been sick, so I feel it’s my duty to prepare stick-to-your-ribs, fiendishly warming comfort foods. The recipe I’m sharing today is something I feel inclined to call “Gnocchi e Rapini.” Pretty simple. Gnocchi and broccoli rabe, although it also includes some Capicola sausage, because I’m goddamn obsessed with the stuff lately. I’m sure any other kind of sausage would be equally delicious here (except honey garlic, that would be the crime of crimes). The recipe is going to seem long and invasive, but if you buy pre-made frozen gnocchi at the grocery store, that would be a huge timesaver. I’m a bit of a stingy traditionalist nutcase though, and I can’t be bothered to spend $5 on a bag of frozen gnocchi that probably were manufactured in Mississauga or Brampton and include such ingredients as “whey powder,” and “soy lechtin.” No thanks. Gnocchi is probably the easiest pasta ever, anyhow. You don’t need any special equipment to make it, and it’s satisfying as hell. You’ll feel like an Italian Mama  in no time at all… … Or Papa, I suppose!  Three cheers for Men in the Kitchen!
Tempo di cucinare!
.
.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
.
For the Gnocchi:
.

.
Ingredients
.
1 lb red-skinned potatoes (or whatever kind, preferably not a baking variety though), unpeeled, cooked and mashed.
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 small egg (or half of a beaten large egg)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading/handling
.
Method:
.
After potatoes have been throughly mashed (no lumps!), stir in salt and pepper to taste, and a bit of nutmeg. Then stir in the egg until it’s completely incorporated, and then the 1 1/4 cups flour, until there are no traces of dry flour anywhere. You’ll have a firm, but soft dough, it should be a tiny bit sticky. Put it on a floured surface (counter?), and divide into two sections (or four might be easier for you to work with, depending on spatial reasons). Roll out with your hands into snakes, about 1″ in diameter. Then, cut into 1″ pieces down along the snake., add a little more flour if you need to. Next, this is entirely optional, but I like to do it… Take each little piece and roll it briefly between the palms of your hands, till it takes on a rounded, “quenelle,” shell kind of shape. Kind of oval-y. For the next part, take a fork, dipped in a little flour, and using the curved part (the top), make a little imprint on the top of each gnocchi. This sounds like it will take a long time, but I promise, it’s pretty quick. So! Your gnocchi are essentially done now. For best results, I recommend putting them on a floured baking sheet in the freezer. This is also kind of great, because you can bag them and freeze them for another time, if you want. However, I just think they’re MUCH easier to handle with the intial partial or full-freezing of them.
Now, all you have to do is cook them! For that, just drop them into boiling water (not a rapid boil like for pasta though), and cook for 2-4 minutes, until they float to the top of the water. You could also add in lots of other spices or fresh herbs, or chopped spinach (which happens to be very popular in the part of Italy that my family comes from… Also, using ricotta cheese instead of potatoes is common too).
.
.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————
.
For the dish itself:
.

.
Ingredients
.
1/2 cup sliced Capicola sausage
2 cloves minced garlic
3 cups coarsely chopped rapini (broccoli rabe…. you could try this with spinach or another kind of green, I think)
1 1/2 cups water or chicken stock
1/2 – 1 tsp dried sweet basil
gnocchi – as much as you want. I think maybe 1/2 – 3/4 of the recipe above works well At least 2 cups, anyhow.
Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan…. Parmigianno Regianno ftw)
salt and pepper
.
Method
.
Heat a pot of water to boiling for gnocchi, and cook them just until they float to the top. Take them out and let them cool slightly. This is beneficial, because it helps them re-firm up a bit. They won’t fall apart or get mushy in the dish.
In a skillet or pot, add 1 tsp olive oil and let heat up over medium heat. Add the capicola, and let it brown slightly, then add garlic, being careful not to let it burn. Just cook briefly for a minute or so. Add rapini and let it wilt slightly, and add the water or chicken stock. Salt and pepper at this point if you like. Add the sweet basil, and continue simmering this mixture, uncovered, stirring fairly frequently (oh, and I should mention that I added a small pinch of baking soda around this point as well, just to rid some of the bitterness from the rapini, optional though).
.

.
Next, add your cooled gnocchi, stir them in gently. The starch from the gnocchi should thicken up the water/stock into a bit of a sauce, but if it gets too thick, add a little more water/stock and continue to stir gently. Grate a small amount of cheese over the top, and give it a bit of a mix. In total, try not to have this cooking for longer than 2 minutes, or else be prepared to feel the wrath of angry, overcooked gnocchi dumplings. They are small but mighty! At this point, your dish is done. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve topped with some more cheese!
.

.
….This is also surprisingly good when eaten cold.
.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————
.
Okay, that is all for now!
Oh, but here’s a picture of an almond-plum cake I made recently! If you want the recipe posted, lemme know!

.
Megohm, over and out! A presto!